PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Isaiah Livers scored 21 points and Michigan again overwhelmed a highly ranked opponent with its flowing offense to beat No. 8 Gonzaga 82-64 on Friday in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Jon Teske added 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Wolverines, who beat sixth-ranked North Carolina on Thursday and finished a memorable three-game run to the title by giving first-year coach Juwan Howard another marquee victory.
This one had a similar feeling to the UNC win, too, with Michigan’s offense kicking into a hot-shooting gear midway through the second half to take control and build a huge lead.
Michigan (7-0) led just 38-36 when the shots started falling from just about everywhere: a 3-pointer from Zavier Simpson, two drives from freshman Franz Wagner, a 3 from Livers and two more from David DeJulius.
It was a burst of 10 straight scoring possessions — with Michigan moving the ball to get good looks on just about every one — that put the Wolverines up 62-43 by the midway point of the second half.
Gonzaga (8-1) never got the lead below double figures again.
Michigan shot 54% for the game, including 12 of 23 from 3-point range.
Killian Tillie scored 20 points for the battered Bulldogs, who dealt with numerous injury concerns over the three-day tournament. Gonzaga just couldn’t keep up with the Wolverines operating with confident efficiency, and finished the game shooting 40%.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs fought through a semifinal win against No. 11 Oregon as their highlight of the Thanksgiving-week tournament. But coach Mark Few would probably love to use the coming days to get healthy, with Tillie missing the opener as he continues playing his way back from an October knee surgery while Gonzaga again didn’t have Anton Watson due to an ankle injury.
Michigan: Howard took over for John Beilein and inherited a team that lost its top three scorers to leave uncertainty even with several experienced players returning. But the Wolverines shot 50% or better in every game, handled two top-10 teams with ease — and likely secured themselves a strong debut in next week’s latest AP Top 25 college basketball poll.
Gonzaga: The Zags host Texas Southern on Wednesday.
Michigan: The Wolverines visit No. 2 Louisville on Tuesday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in what has just become a very big game on the national schedule.
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